Lawmakers still divided as CT marks 84th day without a budget - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers still divided as CT marks 84th day without a budget

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UConn students protested against the GOP budget earlier this week. (WFSB) UConn students protested against the GOP budget earlier this week. (WFSB)

The governor met with Republican leaders on Friday morning to discuss the state budget after meeting with the Democrats on Thursday. 

Connecticut entered its 84th day without a budget and still had no spending plan in place as of Friday. Lawmakers passed a Republican plan last week, but Gov. Dannel Malloy has vowed to veto it.

However, Malloy met with the Republican leaders behind closed doors to try and muster some kind of compromise. The governor said he has "likenesses and differences with everyone."

"I think we have very serious differences with the Republicans about their numbers and their ability to do some of the things they are trying to do. Contributions, pensions and the like," Malloy said. "On the other hand, we had a good conversation."

While both sides are saying we need a bi-partisan agreement, they still seem divided on many topics. Democrats have been blasting Republicans and said their budget has millions in cuts that will hurt higher education and schools. Republicans said that's not true.

However, the question is can they reach common ground by the end of the month. 

"I think there are a lot of policies that we have fundamental beliefs on that are in common," Senate President Len Fasano said. "The question is the resolution of those issues that perhaps we differ on. But, it was a very good conversation about where we had common ground." 

University of Connecticut faculty and students protested the plan at the State Capitol in Hartford on Friday afternoon. They were concerned about larger classes and the possibly of closing campuses.

"Do not be silent right now, so please support UCONN and save UCONN now more than ever," Irma Valverde of the UConn Student Government Association said. "We can not afford these budget cuts."

The Capitol Police estimated the crowd at around 400 people for the protest, which was organized by the Working Families Party. 

 "UConn health has a top notch graduate program with seven areas of concentration," UConn Health grad student Rob Pijewski said.

"It will drive up tuition. It will take away financial aid," Tom Buntly with the UConn Faculty Union said. "It will extend the time for people to get their degrees."

The governor and Democrats said the GOP budget cuts amount to $300 million to the school and its health center, which is more than double what they are calling for.

Republicans said cuts to UConn are $244 million over the next two years. GOP leaders said the alternative would be more cuts to disabled and elderly. 

"President Susan Herbst is out there saying it's Armageddon," Fasano said. "This issue of $200 million she can't absorb she doesn't want to. She can't and look if she has a solution i d like to hear her solution. Does she want to tax more people? Does she want to go after municipalities? Does she want to go after local education - or social services?" 

Another sticking point could be how much money is given to help hundreds of homeowners with crumbling foundations. Democrats met at a home in South Windsor with a crumbling foundation.

"It's $166 million the Republican plan only accesses $45 million,” state Sen Cathy Osten(D-Sprague) said. “That is clearly not enough to deal with the number of homeowners who are going to be impacted."

There's no word on when Malloy will veto the GOP budget. This week there will be bi-partisan meetings and Republicans are suggesting both budgets be compared line by line to see what compromise can be made.

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